Monday, October 19th | 1 Heshvan 5781

November 5, 2018 9:53 am

The Palestinian Response to Pittsburgh: A Contrast in Societies

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /


United Hatzalah volunteers at the scene of the Har Nof synagogue terror attack. Photo: United Hatzalah

JNS.orgFor friends of Israel, the scenes from Pittsburgh were all too familiar. Terrorist attacks on Israeli synagogues, yeshivahs, Passover seders, and other religious sites and events have been a tragically frequent feature of the Arab war against the Jewish state.

This month marks the fourth anniversary of one of the most notorious attacks in Israel in the past few years. On November 18, 2014, Palestinian terrorists burst into the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood, and shot or axed to death five rabbis (four of them American citizens) at prayer, in addition to an Israeli Druze policeman.

One cannot help but note the striking difference between how American society and its leaders responded to the Pittsburgh massacre, and how Palestinian Arab society and its leaders responded to the Har Nof massacre.

Robert Bowers, the terrorist in Pittsburgh, is regarded with revulsion by virtually all Americans, and prosecutors have already announced that they will seek the death penalty.

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By contrast, the terrorists in Jerusalem, Uday Abu Jamal and Ghassan Muhammed Abu Jamal (who were killed in the attack) are regarded as “heroes” and “martyrs” by the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian society at large.

The families of the two Palestinian killers each receive a payment of approximately $1,000 every month from the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Despite a wave of international criticism, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly vowed to continue paying terrorists and their families. The PA’s 2018 budget provides $355 million for such payments — a whopping seven percent of the PA’s total budget, and 46 percent of the foreign aid that the entity will receive this year.

The Har Nof killers were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the second-largest faction in the PLO, which Abbas also chairs. To this day, Abbas still refuses to expel the PFLP from the PLO.

The American equivalent would be if some neo-Nazi gang to which Robert Bowers belonged was permitted to serve as an official affiliate of the Democratic or Republican parties. To Americans, this would be inconceivable. To Palestinians, it makes perfect sense.

Here in the United States, the Pittsburgh massacre has resulted in a tremendous outpouring of opposition to antisemitism and other forms of bigotry. While I am sure that there are American racists smirking behind their hands over the murders, in classrooms, on op-ed pages, and throughout the popular media, there have been and will be countless expressions of grief, discussions of the lessons to be learned, and appeals to our political leaders to do more to combat the sources of hatred.

In the PA-ruled territories, the reaction to massacres of Jews is exactly the opposite. The killers are hailed, celebrated, and rewarded. Their bloody deeds are praised, defended, and rationalized.

And most of all, they are mimicked. A day does not go by in Israel without Palestinian Arabs somewhere trying to shoot, burn, stab, or stone Jews to death. Recent Israeli government statistics reported 60 firebomb attacks against Israeli Jews last month alone.

Think about that: Twice a day, every day, Palestinian Arabs tried to burn Israeli Jews to death. Imagine if, following the Bowers massacre, other neo-Nazis in Pittsburgh attempted to murder local Jews twice a day, every single day. How would American society at large and the American Jewish community respond to that?

We have seen, in America this week, how a decent, civilized society responds to a massacre. And we see every day how the cruel, violent society over which the PA presides responds to the murderers in its midst.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. His book, A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror, was published by Devon Square Press.

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